Have you ever looked at super-creative or innovative people and felt they are special beings blessed with gifts? Have you felt that you are not as fortunate? I used to feel this way. I have since learned that creativity is more about psychology than intellect, and that there are no secrets to being creative. Actually, there is no such thing as being more creative—you are already a creative being.
Here are seven habits found in highly innovative and creative people that I’ve organized and summarized from Scott Berkun’s The Myths of Innovation.
Innovation involves more than just great ideas. We need faith, hard work, and a laser-sharp focus for the end result to keep persisting for our vision in the face of roadblocks. We tend to see the end result of a creative idea in awe, but what we don’t see are the actions, hard work, and persistence behind the scenes to make the vision a reality.
“Invention is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration.”—Thomas A. Edison
2. Remove Self-Limiting Inhibitions
Under the spell of inhibition, we feel limited and stuck. We need to free ourselves from these mind-created constraints by removing assumptions and restrictions. This is what we refer to when we say, “Think outside the box.” Encourage ourselves to be open to new ideas and solutions without setting limiting beliefs. Remember, innovation is more about psychology than about intellect.
3. Take Risks, Make Mistakes
I believe that part of the reason why we create self-imposed inhibition is due to our fear of failure. Expect that some ideas will fail in the process of learning. Build prototypes often, test them out on people, gather feedback, and make incremental changes. Rather than treating the mistakes as failures, think of them as experiments. “Experiment is the expected failure to deliberately learn something.” (Scott Berkun). Instead of punishing yourself for the failures, accept them, then take your newfound knowledge and put it towards finding the best solution. Live up to your goal of producing the best result, but understand you might hit roadblocks along the way.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”—Thomas A. Edison
Our environment can and does effect how we feel. The more relaxed and calm we are internally, the more receptive we are to tap into our flowing creativity. This is why ideas sometimes come to us in the shower or while we’re alone. Each of us have different triggers to access our creative energy. I get into the ‘creative zone’ from sitting at my dining table, with a warm cup of chai, and my noise-canceling headphones. Many great thinkers go on long walks to help them solve problems. Experiment and find what works for you.
5. Write Things Down
Many innovators and creative people keep a journal to jot down ideas and thoughts. Some keep a sketchbook, scrapbook, post-it notes, and loose paper. They all have a method to capture their thoughts, to think on paper, to drop their inhibitions and start the creative process. Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous notebook was purchased by Bill Gates for $30.8 Million dollars.
6. Find Patterns and Create Combinations
Ideas come from other ideas. Did you know that Edison wasn’t the first one who came up with the invention of the lightbulb? He was the first to build a workable carbon filament inside a glass bulb, which made lightbulbs last longer. You can increase your exposure to new ideas, look for patterns, and see how you can combine ideas to improve upon existing solutions.
Many innovators are just curious people who are inquisitive, and like to solve problems. Practice seeing things differently. For example, when seeing the solution to a problem, ask yourself, “What are some alternative ways to doing this?” Ask a lot of questions and challenge the norms or existing methods.
Continue reading here to learn some techniques on how to cultivate creativity.